Hyderabad: Now, Lord Shiva has been the muse for several authors. So, as I was gifted the 'Immortals of Meluha' a few months ago, I turned to read the authors profile. Amish Tripathi, an IIM alumnus and a banker, hmmm, the cynic in me rolled eyes, "now where have I heard that before?!"
Little did I know that not only would I end up reading it in one go, but would also pick up the second offering in the trilogy, 'The Secret of the Nagas' on the first day of its release!
The icing on the cake? Well, I got to meet the storyteller, Amish Tripathi at a book reading session in Hyderabad and must say he did better than just wiping away my cynicism over Bankers-turning-Authors. Here are some excerpts:
Preeti Singh: Mythology and religion have been issues that are perceived to be sensitive. You chose to weave your debut novel around these topics… did u apprehend any brickbats, controversies?
Amish Tripathi: You know a lot of people told me not to write on Shiva or god or religion. But I think there is no better place than India to actually write on these. We have always been open to interpretations. Ramayana has a 1000 versions, with some even suggesting that Sita was the one who actually killed Raavan!
Preeti Singh: Your characters, be it Shiva or Sati or even the warrior Parvateshwar have this very real-life character to them. Was it a conscious effort to not place any of them on a pedestal?
Amish Tripathi: All my characters reflect people I have met in my life. Like the warrior Parvateshwar is actually based on my brother-in-law, who is a cop and I respect him immensely…
Preeti Singh: And Sati owes some of her traits to your wife?
Amish Tripathi: (laughs) Well, I'd say both are wonderful women!
Preeti Singh: You had a lot of trouble getting a publisher for "The Immortals of Meluha?"
Amish Tripathi: After I had written the story, I waited for 2 years and like they say, 'Met 10 publishers who gave me 11 opinions.' But they all had this rare unanimity on rejecting my story! Some said, it's too preachy, make it fun. Some said, why don't u write on some corporate scandal, yehi sab bikta hai! But I knew I didn't want to compromise on this one. So I put in my own money for the first print and later, publishers did come onboard.
Like a character in my book says, "Do your karma, give it your 100% and success follows!"
Preeti Singh: When did u realize you wanted to turn an author?
Amish Tripathi: I was doing pretty well at my corporate job. The Boring banker was actually doing fine. But somewhere I knew I have this story to tell. Now I had never written anything worthwhile even in school. I was basically a sports guy who just wrote some bad poetry.
But I really believe that writing this was my blessing. Any writer who says it's his/her creative genius is lying. It's always a blessing!
Preeti Singh: So you didn't leave your job while writing this story?
Amish Tripathi: No. In Mumbai, you spend hours and hours just traveling from your house to your office. And I wrote most of this while in my car, en route to work.
Preeti Singh: The sales records of both the books put them on the list of bestsellers. But what's been your worst criticism amidst these accolades?
Amish Tripathi: My language. A lot of critics have said my language is not as refined. I respect their feedback. Grammar and typos I can improve upon but if you want me to use Amitav Ghosh kindda language, I can't and I won't because that's not the way I think or I speak.
And honestly, when you write a story, you should care a damn about critics. Don't write for them; write to be true to your blessing.
Preeti Singh: So what's next after the trilogy?
Amish Tripathi: I have a lot of stories to tell. The final part of the trilogy, "The Oaths of the Vayuputras" should come in hopefully sometime next August-Sept. No incident in my book is random; I have left clues that my reader will connect to in the 3rd book. After that, Maybe something on Lord Rudra, Emperor Akbar, the Mahabharata!
Preeti Singh: The LA based Creative Artists Agency has bought the movie rights for your books?
Amish Tripathi: That's right. When the CAA guys first called, I didn't even know who they were! I googled them and I was like, these guys are big! and I think considering the graphics and sets that might be required, it's going to be big-budget film.. Lets' see!
Preeti Singh: And finally Amish, the best compliment you've received?
Amish Tripathi: It was an email from this 12-year-old boy who said, " I always thought Shiva was my grandmother's god, but after reading your books, I think Shiva is the Dude of the gods!"
And I think that's true. Shiva is a passionate lover, a great dancer, bhakton ka bhakth, kind-hearted and a fierce warrior! So yeah… couldn't have said it better, the dude of Gods!